Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Men Can Suffer Postnatal Depression

New Study Claims Men Can Suffer Postnatal Depression!
MUCH is now known about postnatal depression, which ensures that acknowledging it and going for help are that bit easier.

Health visitors and GPs are alert to the possibility of this condition arising, with successful treatment making life infinitely easier for those who suffer from it.

Postnatal depression in men is less often recognised and harder to talk about, not least because of the impression that they could well be hijacking a condition that was always considered both female and hormone-based.

Yet there is no doubt that there is a huge emotional impact in becoming a dad and many struggle to cope with the transitional phase.

Men are often shocked when they realise the reality of having a baby - lack of sleep, crying baby, mums who are finding it difficult to cope, the pressures of providing for a family. It is also hard for some men to understand what their partners are going through - if their partners are depressed, too, - it's bound to affect their relationship and make each of them feel worse.

Recent research completed at Glasgow's Caledonian University indicates postnatal depression can result from situation, as much as hormones, which applies equally to both sexes.

"There are a whole range of issues to be considered here " said Cynthia McVey, Head of Divisional Psychology.

"Having a baby is such an enormous change in life and one where we're not encouraged to dwell on the negatives.

"However, despite all the positives and the sheer joy of being a parent, there are other factors coming into play which can also have a major impact.

"Sometimes a father feels he doesn't have the connection with a baby that the mother has, especially if she's breastfeeding or making all the decisions about caring for the baby.

"She could be unhappy about how she looks, he may feel financial pressure if he's the only one currently earning, the sexual identity of both partners changes and if you add too little sleep, fatigue and lack of confidence about how you're coping, life can be dismal at a time when it should be wonderful."

If you need help or advice on any aspects of postnatal depression contact your GP or health visitor for help and advice.


Magic' Solution for Depression?
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have published what has been described as a "landmark" study seeking further understanding of drugs that can affect human consciousness and, beyond that, how thought, emotion, and ultimately behavior are grounded in biology. The Hopkins researchers looked at the effects of psilocybin, the active agent in sacred or "magic" mushrooms responsible for their spiritual or mystical effects. Controversy surrounding the drug culture of the 1960s pretty much closed the door on scientific research into what substances like psilocybin might reveal about the nature of consciousness and what beneficial effects they might have. The Hopkins study was published in the July 11, 2006, online edition of Psychopharmacology and generated front-page news around the world.

The researchers noted that more than 60 percent of their 36 volunteers reported effects that met criteria for a "full mystical experience" as defined by established psychological scales. One third of the participants said that the experience was the single most spiritually significant of their lives and more than two-thirds rated it among their five most meaningful and spiritually significant events. The effects appeared to be lasting: two months after the study ended, 79 percent of the subjects reported "moderately or greatly increased well-being or life satisfaction" compared with volunteers who got a placebo rather than the psilocybin.

On the downside, about one third of the study subjects reported extreme anxiety in response to the drug that researchers said could escalate into dangerous behavior under less carefully controlled conditions. In my experience, effects of psychoactive drugs are very dependent on set and setting (expectation and environment), and the probability of negative reactions to them can be minimized by attention to these variables.

The average age of the study volunteers was 46 and none had a history of drug abuse or mental illness. Because of the reputed effects of psilocybin, the researchers sought out volunteers with an interest in spirituality. Each of the subjects attended two eight-hour drug sessions, two months apart. At one session they got the psilocybin; at the other, they got Ritalin, the active placebo.

The same group of researchers is now planning a study to test psilocybin on patients suffering from depression or anxiety related to advanced cancer and is designing other studies to investigate whether psilocybin can help treat drug dependence.

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